This Week in Amateur Radio

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This Week in Amateur Radio: North America's Amateur Radio News Magazine. Articles on amateur radio and news stories in the media featured here.
Updated: 1 hour 56 min ago

FCC to Suspend Most Operations on January 3, if Government Shutdown Continues

Sat, 01/05/2019 - 17:25
If the partial lapse in federal government funding continues, the FCC will suspend most operations on Thursday, January 3, at mid-day. At that time, employees will have up to 4 hours to complete an orderly shutdown of operations. Work required for the protection of life and property will continue, however, as will any work related to spectrum auctions, which is funded by auction proceeds. In addition, the Office of the Inspector General will continue operations until further notice. ARRL VEC Manager Maria Somma, AB1FM, said in such situations, the FCC website would go offline, including includes the Universal Licensing System (ULS) and the Commission Registration System (CORES). “This means all electronic license transactions would stop,” Somma said. “FRN registrations would be unavailable, and even the search engines would be unavailable.” The FCC said it will release a Public Notice on January 1, detailing the specific effects that a suspension of operations would have, including the impact on electronic filing and database systems, filing deadlines, regulatory and application fee payments, transaction shot clocks, and more. The FCC has released its overall shutdown plan. The resumption of normal operations will also be announced on the FCC’s website. Agencies affected by the shutdown make up about a quarter of that portion of the federal government funded by Congress. Some 350,000 government employees have been furloughed since the partial shutdown began on December 22.

WRTC 2022 Organizing Committee Unveils New Website, Initial Qualification Rules

Sat, 01/05/2019 - 17:25
The World Radiosport Team Championship 2022 (WRTC 2022) Organizing Committee has debuted its official website as well as the Initial Qualification Rules — already under debate — to be selected as a WRTC 2022 team leader. While 2022 may seem a long way off, the qualifying events — 24 in all — take place between February 2019 and November 2020. Each qualifying event has a point value that’s used in calculating qualifying scores, and each entry category has been assigned a weighting factor. “Please don’t think that WRTC is only for Top Guns,” the announcement said. “You might have a chance.” According to the announcement, WRTC 2022 Selection Areas are much smaller, so that operators on all continents will have more chances to qualify. Team leaders, once established, will select a team member from among the top applicants who did not qualify as team leaders. “WRTC 2022 is now for everybody. The only things that you will need are commitment, motivation, and skill!” the announcement said. An email reflector has been set up to field “suggestions, corrections, and new ideas” on the Initial Qualification Rules, and the Final Qualification Rules will be published on January 31. The first qualifying event is the ARRL International DX Contest CW. WRTC 2022 will be held in Bologna, Italy.

via HACKADAY: Google Assistant, Now Available On Ham Radio

Sat, 01/05/2019 - 17:25
Depending on who you talk to, Google Assistant is either a tool capable of quickly and clearly answering audio queries in natural langauge, or a noisier and less useful version of Wolfram Alpha. [William Franzin] decided it would be particularly cool to make the service available over ham radio – and that’s exactly what he did. [William] got the idea for this project after first playing with the Internet Radio Linking Project, a system which uses VoIP technologies to link radio networks over the internet. Already having an IRLP node, it seemed only natural to make it into a gateway to the wider internet through integration with Google Assistant. Early work involved activating the assistant via DTMF tones, but [William] didn’t stop there – through the use of Picovoice, it became possible to use the system with the custom wakeword “Bumblebee”. [William]’s project could prove particularly useful for when he’s out of cell coverage, but needs a little information like a weather report or a piece of trivia to settle an argument round the campfire. Additionally, it’s even possible to control the IRLP node through voice commands, too.

Broadcasters Intruding on Exclusive Amateur Radio Frequencies

Sat, 12/15/2018 - 17:25
The International Amateur Radio Union Region 1 (IARU-R1) Monitoring System (IARUMS) reports that Radio Hargeisa in Somaliland has returned to 7,120 kHz after a break of several weeks, while Radio Eritrea has been reported on 7,140 and 7,180 kHz. Radio Sudan has been transmitting on 7,205 kHz with excessive splatter, IARUMS said. German telecommunications authorities have filed official complaints. IARUMS has also reported digital signals attributed to the Israeli Navy on 7,107 and 7,150 kHz. In addition, a Russian military F1B signal was observed in mid-November on 7,179 kHz. A Russian over-the-horizon radar has returned to 20 meters on 14,335 – 14,348 kHz. It was monitored on November 22. Earlier this fall, IARUMS reported digital signals from the Polish military daily on 7,001.8 kHz where Amateur Radio has a worldwide primary allocation. Telecommunications officials in Germany filed a complaint.

Jordan’s First CubeSat, JY1Sat, is Designated as JO-97

Sat, 12/15/2018 - 17:25
JY1Sat, launched on December 3 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California as part of the SpaceX SSO-A: SmallSat Express launch, has been designated as Jordan OSCAR 97 (JO-97). The 1U CubeSat is a project of the Crown Prince Foundation of Jordan. Telemetry has been received and decoded around the world since the launch. The spacecraft’s name recalls the Amateur Radio call sign of Jordan’s late King Hussein, JY1. JO-97 carries a 435/145 MHz SSB/CW inverting Amateur Radio transponder and a Slow-Scan Digital Video (SSDV) system to transmit stored images. The telemetry downlink is on 145.840 MHz, the transponder downlink passband is 145.855 – 145.875 MHz, with an inverting uplink on 435.100 – 435.120 MHz. — Thanks to AMSAT

Fox-1Cliff/AO-95 Receiver Suffers Apparent Failure

Sat, 12/15/2018 - 17:25
The receiver on the newly launched Fox-1Cliff/AO-95 CubeSat seems to have suffered a receiver failure that could render the satellite unusable, AMSAT said over the weekend. Efforts continue by AMSAT Engineering to establish the cause of the problem and determine if a fix is possible. AMSAT Vice President-Engineering Jerry Buxton, N0JY, reported over the weekend that the issue cropped up during efforts to commission Fox-1Cliff/AO-95. “After a few days of tests, analysis, and discussion, it appears that Fox-1Cliff/AO-95 will not be commissioned as our fourth Fox-1 Amateur Radio satellite,” Buxton said. Commissioning began on December 4, right after the CubeSat’s successful launch a day earlier. “AMSAT Engineering will continue to evaluate and test Fox-1Cliff/AO-95 for solutions to the anomaly, and your continued help in providing telemetry is appreciated so that we can have data throughout her daily orbits, rather than limited data over our US stations,” Buxton said. “The data, analysis, and testing could lead to a positive solution, but at the very least will be important to AMSAT's satellite programs in providing information that would help us and others avoid similar situations with future missions.”

WSJT-X 2.0 Full Release Now Available; FT8 Enthusiasts Urged to Upgrade Now

Sat, 12/15/2018 - 17:25
The WSJT-X 2.0 software suite has been released, and developer Joe Taylor, K1JT, is urging FT8 and MSK144 users to upgrade to what will become the new standard, because the FT8 and MSK144 protocols have been enhanced in a way that is not backward compatible with older versions of the program. That includes any version 1.9 releases. “The new protocols become the worldwide standards starting on December 10, 2018, and all users should upgrade to WSJT-X 2.0 by January 1, 2019,” Taylor said on the WSJT-X home page. “After that date, only the new FT8 and MSK144 should be used on the air.” Users are encouraged to read the new Quick Start Guide for WSJT-X. Gary Hinson, ZL2IFB, has released an FT8 Operating Guide.

Apollo 8 50th Anniversary Special Event Set for December 21 – 27

Sat, 12/15/2018 - 17:25
Several NASA Amateur Radio clubs will mark the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8 on December 21 – 27, concluding the year-long NASA on the Air activity, which celebrates NASA’s 60th anniversary. The agency was created in 1958 through an act signed by President Dwight Eisenhower. Apollo 8 was launched on December 21, 1968, and splashed down 6 days later on December 27. It was the first manned spacecraft to leave low-Earth orbit, orbit the moon, and return safely. Special event operation will be on various bands and modes, and participating stations will self-spot on the DX cluster as well as via Facebook and Twitter. Contact Rob Suggs, KB5EZ, at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center for more information.

New Beta Version of WSJT-X is Now Available, Mock FT8 Contest Set

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 22:35
A new WSJT-X "release candidate," version 2.0.0-rc4, now is available, and the version 2.0 Quick Start Guide has been revised and extended. The developers urge anyone upgrading to the new version to read the release notes thoroughly, since the upgrade requires users to change operator settings, so the software may not work "out of the box" when upgrading from previous versions.

AMSAT's Fox-1Cliff CubeSat Set to Launch on November 19

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 22:35
AMSAT is counting down to the launch of the next Fox-1 satellite, Fox-1Cliff. According to Spaceflight Now, the launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base of Spaceflight's SSO-A SmallSat Express mission, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 vehicle, is currently scheduled for November 19 at 1832 UTC. Fox-1Cliff carries the Fox-1 U/v FM repeater, AMSAT's L-Band Downshifter, the flight spare of the AO-85 Vanderbilt University Low Energy Proton (LEP) radiation experiment, and the standard Fox-1 Penn State University-Erie MEMS gyroscope experiment. Virginia Tech provided a video graphics array camera that's similar to the one on AO-92 but which will provide images at a higher 640 x 480 resolution. More information about the launch and early operations phase will be released prior to launch.

India Gains Three New Bands, Sweden Gets Permanent 60-Meter Access

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 22:35
Radio amateurs in India now have access to three new bands. India's Ministry of Communications' Department of Telecommunications has published an updated National Frequency Allocation Plan, effective October 25, which lists the new bands at 5 MHz (60 meters), 472 kHz (630 meters), and 136 kHz (2300 meters). All allocations are on a secondary basis. On 60 meters, hams now have access to 5,351.5 - 5,366.5 kHz at 15 W EIRP; on 630 meters, 472 - 479 kHz at 1 W EIRP, and on 2300 meters, 135.7 - 137.8 kHz at 1 W EIRP. Sweden's IARU member-society SSA reports that radio amateurs there gained routine secondary access to 5,351.5 - 5,366.5 kHz at 15 W EIRP on November 1. Temporary permission has been available since 2016, by application. SSA recommends following IARU Region 1 guidelines for using the band; a Swedish version is available. - Thanks to Paul Gaskell, G4MWO, Editor, The 5 MHz Newsletter; SSA

Palm Radio Going out of Business

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 22:25
Key and paddle maker Palm Radio is going out of business, Dieter Engels, DJ6TE, announced on the company's website. "For health reasons and after the passing of Brunhilde, DK7SN; Uli, DL2BAT, and Klaus, DL9SKE, I am not able to continue Palm Radio in its current form," Engels wrote. "I will only deliver remaining stock," and he invited inquiries via email. Marshall Emm, N1FN, of Morse Express - a carrier of Palm Radio products-said that Engels "has been unwell for some time," but added that Morse Express would continue to service them for as long as it can. Palm Radio products have been popular among portable operators.

FCC Approves Use of Galileo Global Navigation Satellite System in the US

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 21:25
The FCC has granted, in part, the European Commission's request for a waiver of Commission rules so that non-federal devices in the US may access specific signals transmitted from the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) known as Galileo. The action means that consumers and industry in the US may access certain satellite signals from the Galileo system to augment the US Global Positioning System (GPS). The Order approved finds that the Galileo GNSS is uniquely situated with respect to the US GPS, since the two systems are interoperable and RF compatible pursuant to the 2004 European Union/United States Galileo-GPS Agreement.

Maritime Mobile Service Network Operators Assist Vessel with Ill Crew Member

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 20:25
Amateur Radio operators associated with the Maritime Mobile Service Network (MMSN) played a significant part in summoning medical assistance on November 9 for a crew member suffering chest pains on board the 48-foot sailing vessel Marie Elena, some 300 miles east of Bermuda.

via the ARRL: Amateur Radio Volunteers at the Ready for California Fire Duty

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 18:25
Amateur Radio volunteers have been active or are standing by on several fronts as wildfires continue to rage in large sections of California. In Butte County, in Northern California, the Camp Fire, the state's deadliest wildfire, triggered a call up of ARES members for communication support. A small wildfire that started in a mountainous area of Butte County quickly grew to some 20,000 acres, due to high winds and gusts of more than 50 MPH. Evacuations were ordered by the county, and eventually more than 25,000 people were evacuated. As multiple shelters opened to assist the evacuees, five Sacramento Valley ARES groups were called out to support communication between the Red Cross Disaster Operations Center (DOC) and the shelters. The uncontrolled wildfire eventually consumed the town of Paradise, and the town of 27,000 residents has been devastated. As of November 13, the Camp Fire covered some 125,000 acres, and more than 40 people had died, many while escaping the fires or trapped in their homes. More than 7,600 structures have been destroyed. An additional 15,500 residences are in danger.

via the ARRL: Montenegro, Lithuania Latest to Join the 60-Meter Band Community

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 17:45
Montenegro and Lithuania are the latest countries to announce adoption of a new Amateur Radio band at 5 MHz. Both countries have authorized amateur operation on a secondary allocation of 5,351.5 - 5,366.5 kHz at up to 15 W EIRP, per the Final Acts of World Radiocommunication Conference 2015. Montenegro's International Amateur Radio Union member-society, the Montenegrin Amateur Radio Pool (MARP), confirmed the new allocation. Lithuania's IARU member-society LRMD President Tadas Vysniauskas, LY2BAW, said the news was "enthusiastically received" there.

Es'hail-2 Geostationary Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio Payload Launched

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 17:25
A SpaceX Falcon 9 vehicle lifted off flawlessly at 2046 UTC on November 15 from Cape Canaveral, carrying the first Amateur Radio payload destined for geostationary orbit. About 32 minutes after launch, SpaceX reports the spacecraft was successfully deployed into a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). Positioned at 25.5deg E, the satellite will carry an Amateur Radio S-band and X-band payload capable of linking radio amateurs from Brazil to Thailand, although it's unlikely that Es'hail-2 will be accessible from North America with typical Amateur Radio satellite gear.

Southern New Jersey ARES Team Assists in Missing-Person Search

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 17:25
Ocean County, New Jersey, Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers recently assisted search groups looking for a man with dementia who was reported missing on November 2 from a nursing home in Stafford Township. Searches concentrating on neighborhoods around the nursing home had been unsuccessful. The missing man's family organized a search for November 10, and Ocean County ARES was invited to participate. Ocean County ARES EC Bob Murdock, WX2NJ, had been informed that the search would focus on a wooded area. Tim Tonnesen, NJ2N, was instrumental in contacting the local authorities and working with the family and search teams to organize a search plan, while Murdock looked after the communications technical side and personnel. Temperatures had dropped overnight to around 32deg F, and it had rained considerably the night before. via American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources

Bank of Lithuania Gold Coin Features Amateur Radio Satellites

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 14:25
The Bank of Lithuania (Lietuvos Bankas) has released a commemorative gold 5€ coin featuring the country’s LituanicaSAT-1(LO-78) and LitSAT-1 Amateur Radio Satellites. The two CubeSats were launched to the International Space Station (ISS) on January 9, 2014, and deployed from the ISS on February 28. LituanicaSAT-1 carried a FM transponder and a camera, while LitSat-1 had a linear (SSB/CW) transponder developed by William Leijenaar, PE1RAH. The face of the gold coin features the Lithuanian coat of arms as a star constellation, with LituanicaSAT-1 and LitSAT-1 on the other side.

via the ARRL: New CEO Wants ARRL to Serve All Ages and Amateur Radio Interests

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 13:55
Newly elected ARRL CEO Howard Michel, WB2ITX, is still on the uphill side of the learning curve as he acquaints himself with ARRL Headquarters and the nearly 90 staffers who work there. The New Jersey native arrived at HQ on October 15 and has spent much of his time since meeting with department managers and others to get his bearings, with an eye toward building consensus and aligning people, programs, and services in the same direction. “I’m still trying to understand what is working and where the challenges are,” Michel said. “Once I understand where the challenges are, I need to understand why. Before I make any changes in what we’re doing, I need to make sure the change is a step in the right direction and for the right reasons, and not kind of a random process.” Michel would like to see ARRL focus on the future of Amateur Radio and not become the redoubt of a particular generation of radio amateur or interest group. He said, “Ham radio shouldn’t abandon the old guardians of the hobby, but at the same time, it needs to have new things that appeal to people who have different interests and different passions.”